Task Force Debates Withholding Crime Scene Photos

, The Connecticut Law Tribune


Cavanagh argues that a murder involving police brutality or misconduct would result in photos, videos and audio evidence being withheld from release through FOIA.

Cavanagh also shot down potential compromises that have been mentioned thus far. "Putting an age limit on autopsy photos could create a barrier to identifying instances of child abuse murder," said Cavanagh. "Allowing only the press or family members access to the autopsy photos is problematic as the constricting media industry cannot be our only source of government oversight."

Conversely, Morgan Rueckert, an attorney at Shipman & Goodwin who, along with others at the firm, represents pro bono 22 families and their children who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, argues that the same balancing enacted in the new law when it comes to murder photos should apply to other forms of media as well, including all audio.

"And this would bring us in line with all of our neighboring states and federal FOIA," said Rueckert. "Prior to the new act, unbelievably, there was no FOIA protection for crime-scene photos in Connecticut and really no recognition of privacy for victims."

Rueckert believes the new protections for victims should be expanded with the Internet in mind.

"Digitization and the Internet have frankly changed everything," Rueckert told the task force. "Everyone with a computer is an editor, reporter and publisher in one, unbound by any professional responsibility. "Privacy is so fleeting, so easily violated now, and information once disclosed, is disclosed forever. The law needs to change to keep up…"•

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